Bradley: Gonzalez, Ream figure into US plans

Coach says young MLS center backs may be part of next Cup cycle

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Omar Gonzalez and Tim Ream are both on Bob Bradley’s radar as the coach moves into his second term as US National Team coach.

Bradley spoke with the media at Toyota Park on Wednesday night prior to the Chicago-Toronto match and discussed a variety of topics, including the pair of young MLS center backs.

“Omar Gonzalez got his first cap against Brazil [last month] and I think he’s … certainly someone over time that we think can continue to grow and play an important role,” Bradley said of the second-year Galaxy defender.

Bradley also cited New York Red Bulls center back Ream as a player who “has done well for himself” during a solid rookie campaign.

With the pool of USMNT center backs aging, both players could figure into Bradley’s set-up in the cycle moving toward the 2014 World Cup.

READ: Postcard from Europe: Bradley's checklist for 2014 cycle

Bradley hinted that he’d like to bring some fresh faces into the next US camp leading into friendlies against Poland on Oct. 9 at Chicago’s Soldier Field, then three days later vs. Colombia at the Philadelphia Union’s PPL Park.

The former Chicago Fire and Chivas USA coach said that he’d take into account the stretched needs of MLS teams when naming his roster for those games.

“We will certainly take into account playoffs and schedule and balance with the hope that we can start to work in some new players,” Bradley said.

“We understand that MLS will be getting to the end of the season and playoff stakes will be on the line and it’s a friendly, and we’re taking all of that into account as we work toward making roster selections in the next few weeks.”

Bradley also discussed the rationale behind not scheduling any matches for last week’s FIFA dates.

“Following the very busy schedule and the fact that the Brazil game came up so quickly, it was agreed upon that that we wouldn’t play a game on that fixture date,” Bradley said. “You want to make sure you’re not overdoing it in terms of matches.”

Another topic of note was Bradley’s plans for the 2012 Olympics. Bradley didn’t rule out coaching the Olympic squad himself, something he did not do last cycle.

“All I would say is that this is something that we have begun to discuss,” Bradley said. “What the [World Cup] qualification schedule looks like comes into play. The last time the Olympics took place, we had qualifiers in and around that same period of time. I think it’s important to know everything but we’ve begun discussions.”

WATCH: Bradley talks goals for US in his second term

Of course, Bradley couldn’t get out of Chicago without commenting on the recent announcement that three-time World Cup veteran and current Fire forward Brian McBride will be retiring at the end of this season.

“Brian has been such an important player for the US,” Bradley said. “He’s a player whose competitiveness, attitude on the field and will to win has really set a great standard.

"His teammates have always looked up to him; coaches that have had a chance to work with him wish all players had his mentality. I think he’s just been a great example and his career has been very special.”

When pressed, Bradley even discussed the possibility of giving McBride an honorary cap during the next month’s friendly against Poland.

“I need more time to think that through,” he said. “Brian’s typically not interested in those kinds of things.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.